Blueschist-facies metamorphism during Paleozoic orogeny in southwestern Japan: Phengite K-Ar ages of blueschist-facies tectonic blocks in a serpentinite melange beneath early Paleozoic Oeyama ophiolite


Blueschist‐bearing Osayama serpentinite melange develops beneath a peridotite body of the Oeyama ophiolite which occupies the highest position structurally in the central Chugoku Mountains. The blueschist‐facies tectonic blocks within the serpentinite melange are divided into the lawsonite–pumpellyite grade, lower epidote grade and higher epidote grade by the mineral assemblages of basic schists. The higher epidote‐grade block is a garnet–glaucophane schist including eclogite‐facies relic minerals and retrogressive lawsonite–pumpellyite‐grade minerals. Gabbroic blocks derived from the Oeyama ophiolite are also enclosed as tectonic blocks in the serpentinite matrix and have experienced a blueschist metamorphism together with the other blueschist blocks. The mineralogic and paragenetic features of the Osayama blueschists are compatible with a hypothesis that they were derived from a coherent blueschist‐facies metamorphic sequence, formed in a subduction zone with a low geothermal gradient (~ 10°C/km). Phengite K–Ar ages of 16 pelitic and one basic schists yield 289–327 Ma and concentrate around 320 Ma regardless of protolith and metamorphic grade, suggesting quick exhumation of the schists at ca 320 Ma. These petrologic and geochronologic features suggest that the Osayama blueschists comprise a low‐grade portion of the Carboniferous Renge metamorphic belt. The Osayama blueschists indicate that the ‘cold’ subduction type (Franciscan type) metamorphism to reach eclogite‐facies and subsequent quick exhumation took place in the northwestern Pacific margin in Carboniferous time, like some other circum‐Pacific orogenic belts (western USA and eastern Australia), where such subduction metamorphism already started as early as the Ordovician.

Island Arc, v. 8, no. 2, p. 190-205, doi:10.1046/j.1440-1738.1999.00231.x